Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An "Out of Sight" Blog

A current writing project of mine finds me revisiting my personal favorite decade: the 1970s. While researching my subject matter, I decided to reacquaint myself with the lingo of the time, considering that more than three decades have passed, and I am no longer a teenager uttering, “Be there or be square” and “Take a chill pill.” Well, actually, I don’t think I ever spoke either of those two phrases. I was way too square for that. However, I know for a fact that I branded some people “chumps,” who were definitely worthy of the label, and I may possibly have even said “later,” as I parted with friends a time or two, which is embarrassing to admit.

I found a 1970s lingo listing—you can unearth virtually everything on the Internet—and noticed that “Who cut the cheese?” made the cut, if you will. This intriguing query resurrected a memory of a grammar school religion class taught by a hipster priest—and a very likeable fellow from my parish, I should add. He interrupted a lecture of his with that very question: “Who cut the cheese?” He just knew how to endear himself to seventh graders living amidst the grooviest snapshot in time ever recorded in the annals of history. However, I didn’t appreciate his follow-up query: “Nick, are you gagging?” As I recall, I wasn’t the guilty party. And as we know: Whoever smelt it dealt it.

Most of the 1970s slang on the list I remembered, even if I didn’t employ the majority of the cool jargon. “Far out” was John Denver’s thing. And I didn’t call cops “pigs” because I didn’t have a bone to pick with them and, too, Kojak was my favorite TV show. Even the “fuzz” was too pejorative for me. I may have said “fooey,” instead of “nonsense” at some point, and I’m certain I used the word “grody” to describe a variety of “disgusting” things in those days of yore. “Doofus,” well, I still like that word, and it is equally apropos in the twenty-first century, and I don’t plan on retiring it.

Yes, I recollect peers of mine being called “spaz” when they lacked athletic grace. And that’s really urban slang at its best, sounding like what it’s describing. I know some people said “you know” after many sentences in the 1970s when it was the hip thing to do. Now, some people say “you know” after many sentences when it’s not the hip thing to do. Many of the phrases that became the “rad” in the 1970s are hippie-inspired, and the hippies deserve their due for adding immeasurably to the English language. Wearing cool “threads” with no “bread” in their pockets had to be a real “bummer.” Do you catch my drift?

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